Photo of the Day: Student M45A1

It is now officially Day Two of the 10-8 Consulting 1911 Armorer’s Course. One of our intrepid students brought their fairly rare MARSOC M45A1 to class to work on. It has already been through a high round count pistol course, and belongs to an educated end user who knows how to keep his 1911s running. It was no surprise it passed all our function tests with flying colors.

Colt Reliability Out of the Box?

We test fire 10 Colt 1911 pistols right out of the box without so much as lubrication.

Here at MSW, we get the question all the time: what is the best 1911 to get for out of the box reliability? Hilton and I have felt that recent production Colts probably did the best job in this regard. Last year at a 1911 class in Los Angeles, Jason Davis brought a brand new Colt 1911 to the class and shot the entire class, without any malfunctions, including the 1911 Extractor Test. This year, I brought a brand new Colt Rail Gun to our Seattle 1911 Armorer’s Course and it also passed all our function tests with flying colors. My good buddy and Factory Colt 1911/M16 Armorer Instructor Dean Caputo and I came up with an idea: What if we tested 10 random brand new, out of the box Colt Government Models and see how they ran? We agreed we wouldn’t even lubricate the guns. So not long ago, we did just that and here’s what happened:

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PHOTO OF THE DAY: Nighthawk 10-8 1911 On Duty

Around 2006, we at 10-8 Consulting, LLC worked with Nighthawk Custom and commissioned the 10-8 Model 1911 to be built by the smiths at Nighthawk. Built to our specifications, it was designed to have all the features we wanted in a service ready 1911, including a Dawson Light Speed Rail and then-brand-new 10-8 rear sight for the 1911. Pictured above is one of the very first test pistols Nighthawk sent us for our evaluation (which I purchased myself.) Paired with it is an old school SureFire W117D Military Light. Yes, it is heavy and not nearly as bright as the new X300U, but old habits die hard. Plus, I like having a system disable switch on board. I have rebuilt this pistol twice, refinished three times, replaced the extractor three times, went through countless recoil and FP springs, and put nearly 30,000 rounds through it. With strict maintenance, this pistol continues to serve me well.

New Life For An Old Warrior

While perusing the inventory at my local gun store, I discovered a used 1911. It consisted of a Caspian frame and a vintage Ithaca slide. The gun was completed with an assortment of vintage and modern small parts. The slide is a WWII era production with “P” Proof and Ordinance Marks. The Ithaca rollmarks were shallow and the slide had a few dings and had been arsenal refinished over the years.

Being that the slide and frame were mismatched, I decided to use it as the canvas for my first build. I had worked on 1911’s over the years, and I am a certified 1911 armorer, however this was going to be a first and would be done completely by hand. Files, Emery Cloth and the occasional Dremel tool would be the only tools used. I decided to make the pistol a Retro Build, keeping the classic lines while incorporating modern features into the pistol. My inspiration was actually Hilton’s Delta Build. (And I DO NOT compare my work to Hilton’s). Continue reading

10-8 Consulting’s 1911 Armorer’s Course

Okay, I admit a little bait and switch. This is what we WON’T be doing in the Armorer’s Course. But we WILL be fitting extractors, safeties, and working on triggers.

After our recent series of articles on the 1911, many folks have gotten the impression that I am down on the 1911 platform, but this is not the case. I have carried a 1911 on the job for better part of 13 years, and dedicated countless hours and dollars to learning about and supporting the 1911 system. I think I speak for Hilton when I say our hope is to ensure potential end users go in with both eyes open should they choose to carry a 1911 on the job, or adopt it for team or agency use.

To this end, we offer the 10-8 Consulting 1911 Armorer’s Course. This is by no means a gunsmithing course, but goes significantly further than our 1911 Operations/Diagnostics curriculum in that it covers the skills necessary to perform basic maintenance and parts replacement. Unlike factory armorer’s courses, this class gives the student a broad spectrum approach to understanding how the 1911 works and will go beyond replacing factory parts. Included in the curriculum is a full overview of the cycle of operation as it pertains to the 1911, pistol and magazine maintenance, a full limited technical inspection worksheet, extractor replacement and tuning (geometry and tension), basic trigger work, and reliability modifications. We also provide an in depth explanation of the 10-8 1911 Function Test Protocol, where it came from, what it means and what it doesn’t mean. Continue reading

Photo of the Day: Visiting with an Early 1911 Build

Today’s photo of the day is one of my early projects from almost 10 years ago. I built it on a Colt 1991A1 with all the Series 80 parts in tact. I spent a lot of time on the trigger and adjusted the timing of the S80 parts so that they are transparent to the shooter. After about a year, the original Ed Brown thumb safety sheared, so it was replaced with a strong side only CMC unit that I had in the pile. I also replaced the slide stop with an early 10-8 unit for good measure. All the parts were addressed by hand, including removal of all machine marks from the frame and slide, thorough dehorn, and polishing of all the pins. The S&A magwell was also blended by hand with external recontouring inspired by a build I had seen from Larry Vickers. I can’t take credit for the scallops; they were done as a favor to me by Stan Chen back in the day. This pistol has some good honest wear on it, which looks nice on the satin blue finish. Bluing doesn’t protect nearly as well as modern polymer finishes, but boy it looks a lot better when it wears. Just don’t keep it around salt water.

The 1911 For LE and Special Team Use

From 1986 to 2010 I was issued, qualified with, or authorized to carry a 1911—even got the POST certified SWAT Academy training for the 1911. While I had no problems maintaining my personal 1911′s, go ahead and try to keep nearly 100 1911′s from a large full time metropolitan SWAT team up and running. The 1911 is not a logical choice for general LE issue, including SWAT team use, in this era given the increased fiscal outlay they require. In addition, for years I thought I shot a 1911 better than any other pistol. However, when run across a wide variety of tests based on objective times and scores, rather than subjective feelings, that did not turn out to be true. It turns out I run an M&P or Glock just as well.

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Wilson’s Tactical Elite: Now and Back In The Day

With permission of WC, here’s what a Tactical Elite looks like now in its basic configuration.

Meet the Wilson Combat (WC) Tactical Elite (TE), a really nice full size 1911 with a unique flanged cone barrel.  The claim of softer recoil and faster shot-to shot-recovery (due to almost two ounces additional weight) is not a false boast.  I base this on the comments of friends who have shot my TE, and from personal experience.  There are a couple of pistols in WC’s expansive current offerings I now might like better, but that in no way diminishes this rather unusual iteration of the 1911.

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Photo of the Day: Goldmember’s 1911?

While visiting my buddy’s local gun shop, I saw this in the repair bin and knew I had to share it. The pistol appears to be plated with actual gold, and fully engraved. You get exactly ONE guess as to what caliber for which the pistol is chambered. You’ll notice even the sights are plated. Just goes to show you that the taste some people have exists only in their mouth.

The Real Truth About 1911s

This photo was taken from a 1911 course we taught in Bellevue, WA. Three quarters of the 1911s experienced failures during the test firing phase of this class, which is about average for our courses. We make it a point to get all these guns working reliably by the end of the class, and barring a dimensional issue that requires machine work (which is beyond our the scope of our mobile class format), we are usually successful in reaching this goal.

Recently, another blogger has apparently taken offense to the statement I made in a previous article. I wrote something to the effect that those who have been around 1911s know that they are finicky and requires a dedicated end user and strict maintenance. Before I go into a few technical details, I’d like to point out a few facts. Despite my comment, believe it or not, I am a 1911 fan. It is safe to say that I love 1911s and there are more of them in my safe than any other pistol I own. It was a revolutionary design that was way ahead of its time. The 1911 has influenced nearly all modern service pistols subsequent to its development. That being said, the gun is over 100 years old, and believe it or not, we have learned one or two things about building reliable, affordable pistols for duty use in the last century.

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Colt M45 CQBP: Shooting the Gun (Does it work?)

The Colt M45 is fitted with a National Match Barrel which yields very good accuracy. I shot this group at 20 yards, standing, freestyle. I was fighting a nasty flinch from all the function testing earlier.

Earlier this week, Hilton published a series of articles that gave us a detailed look at the Marine Corps’ new M45. This begs the question, how does it shoot? Those of us who’ve been around the 1911 platform know it is a finicky gun that requires a dedicated end user and strict maintenance schedule if it is to be relied upon. Many 1911 style guns on the market won’t even work well out of the box. So how does the Marines’ new 45-caliber pistol fare? Continue reading

Colt M45: A Closer Look at the Dual Recoil Spring System

The geometry of the M45 guide rod head is quite similar to the GI version. The protrusions are the same diameter according to my digital calipers.

Recently, there has been a bit of interest regarding the dual recoil spring system included with the Colt M45 CQBP. The spring system is designed to improve the service life between replacement cycles, though the Marine Corps still specifies that the springs be replaced at 5000 rounds. This spring setup is not completely new, as a similar setup is used in the Delta Elite, albeit the guide rod in that system is polymer. So the question remains, can we expect the system to work if put into a standard 1911? Continue reading

An Unexpected Range Lesson

Fig.1 S&W 1911TA in unusual condition

As you can probably tell from the photo above, something is very wrong here. What you see is a .40 caliber case that almost made it out of a .45 caliber barrel. What you cannot see is the .45 bullet that is lodged in the barrel behind the .40 case. Continue reading

Another Look at the Wilson Combat 620BP 1911 Ambi Safety

After initial fitting of the engagement surfaces of the safety, it was time to trim the extra wide paddles so they were suitable for a duty/carry gun. Left is the “before” photo, and on the right is the “after”.

A few weeks ago, MSW Contributor Scott Ballard wrote about Wilson Combat’s latest iteration of their Bulletproof Ambidextrous Safety for the 1911. Originally available with tiny little levers, many of us were waiting for a version with longer and wider paddles that are more consistent with what we are used to. Thankfully, Wilson Combat answered the call and produced the 620BP, which has oversized paddles. Continue reading